Australian NSW hotel apologies for promoting ‘midget-tossing’ event
A Newcastle pub has apologized for promoting a “midget-tossing” game during a planned Wolf of Wall Street-inspired event, saying they only planned to throw a doll, not a real person.
A scene in The Wolf of Wall Street shows a short-stature person being thrown at a target
Management apologized for the promotion saying a real person was not going to be thrown
Dwarfism Awareness Australia said the word midget was derogatory and should be avoided
The Great Northern Hotel in Newcastle had been promoting a “Wolf of Watt Street” event — a play on the venue’s address and the Hollywood film The Wolf of Wall Street — to be held on September 21.
The hotel released a video and poster sprucing a pop-up casino that also said: “If that won’t keep you on your toes the whole night, sign up for our FREE MIDGET-TOSSING!!”
“Hit the target and receive a FREE DRINK!!” the poster said.
Management at the hotel released a statement to apologies for the promotion as well as “any comments and sadness this has bought to the community.”
“We are extremely sorry for any offence or reference to our Wolf of Watt St event, with tossing of any people,” the statement read.
“We had no intention of doing so and this was a misguided comment, in reference to the film.”
Management added that they were planning on throwing a doll at a target, not a real person.
A scene in Wolf of Wall Street shows a group of traders throwing people of short stature toward a target as they bet on who can hit the bullseye.
Paralympic and former national secretary for the Short Stature People of Australia, Alicia Jenkins, said the promotion had left her speechless.
“I was probably more than gobsmacked. It is horrifying, it is gut-wrenching, and I suppose my disappointment and my disgust is really hard to put into words,” she said.
“It still appears that dwarfism is the last disability that people seem to think it is OK to mock and it is just wrong.
“On a daily or weekly basis, I have people mocking me on the street, trying to take my photo, calling me midget and laughing and pointing at me.”
Ms Jenkins said the event was deeply offensive, regardless of whether real people were used.
“Whether there [are real people] or not, the fact that they are using the word midget and [they say] hit the mark and you get free drinks … it just can’t happen,” she said.
‘Significant lack of empathy’
National president of the Short Statures People of Australia, Sam Millard, said these types of events had “real world consequences” and could lead to short-stature people being targeted in public.
“We know that in the past unfortunately after events like this there have been people in the community that have been picked up and thrown in local bars and have been injured significantly.
“So these kinds of things might sound like a joke but they do have real world consequences.”
The NSW Minister for Disability Services Gareth Ward, who has a disability himself, said the promotion was appalling and used “entirely inappropriate language”.
“Look, I am not one for political correctness — I often call it out — but … I would say to the Great Northern Hotel, this doesn’t pass the pub test.”
Mr Ward said most Australians would have the same view.
“Australia is an inclusive country. We believe in giving everyone a fair go and that includes people with disabilities. We want to be an inclusive community,” he said.
“But when you use scorn and ridicule, even in a way that you don’t believe is offensive, it shows a fairly significant lack of empathy, which I think should be urgently reviewed.”
The Opposition’s spokeswoman for Disability and Inclusion, Penny Sharpe, said there was no place for such an event.
“There is really nothing that is OK about this. Treating people in our community in this way is demeaning and wrong, and I am surprised that anyone would think it is a reasonable thing to be doing.
“It is in poor taste it is wrong, it is completely unnecessary — we should be well beyond this and it shouldn’t be going ahead.”
Dwarfism is no joke
The group Dwarfism Awareness Australia said people should avoid using the word midget at all costs.
“It is a derogatory slang word that is pretty much on par [with] calling someone the ‘N-word’,” the group said.
Ms Jenkins said dwarfism did not define her and it was appalling that the planned midget-tossing event treated her condition as a joke.
“It is not a joke. You know they think it is a bit of fun, but it has so much ramifications for every short-stature person in the community,” she said.
“I am a science teacher, I have a couple of degrees, I have just finished my masters, I have represented Australia at an elite level in swimming, and to be mocked on a regular basis it is so unfair.”